A public event calling for an end to bottom trawling in the Hauraki Gulf will be held this Saturday at Auckland’s Mission Bay. The gathering will culminate in a massive floating ‘ban bottom trawling’ banner being deployed and met by a flotilla of boats, kayaks and paddleboards.
Called ‘Show Your Heart for the Hauraki’, the event has been organised by Forest & Bird and Greenpeace Aotearoa as an opportunity for the public to express their views on banning bottom trawling in the marine park. Over 100 crafts from kayaks to skiffs, fishing boats and yachts have registered to date.
“Bottom trawling is a destructive fishing method that indiscriminately destroys marine life and precious ecosystems,” says Greenpeace Oceans campaigner Ellie Hooper.
“To allow the Hauraki Gulf Tīkapa Moana to recover and thrive, bottom trawling has got to go. The public mandate for change is clear - 84% of people living around the Gulf want trawling gone from their big blue backyard. It’s time the government heard that call and took action to ban trawling in the Gulf.”
Forest & Bird Hauraki Gulf coordinator Bianca Ranson says that this is a clear message to the Minister for Oceans and Fisheries to end bottom trawling in the marine park.
“Bottom trawling has been ripping up the Hauraki Gulf seafloor since 1899. It's a violation of our environment at the hands of a few.
"Seafloor species and habitats are being decimated and whole ecosystems have disappeared. It’s ludicrous to continue this practice in the face of the twin biodiversity and climate crises.”
People can register boats and light craft such as kayaks and paddleboards for the event which will take place at Mission Bay on Saturday April 15 starting at 2pm.
There will also be activities on the beach including banner painting, a Meat Free Mondays BBQ, and a human chain forming when the huge banner is towed into place.
Bottom trawling involves dragging weighted nets over the seafloor, indiscriminately bulldozing marine life. This destructive fishing method has contributed to ecosystem collapse in the Hauraki Gulf.
The government is currently considering fisheries management changes for the Gulf, but proposed plans currently allow for bottom trawling to still continue in large areas of the Gulf.
Advocates say this isn’t good enough, and that if bottom trawling is allowed to continue, the Gulf will experience further decline.
“Species in the Gulf are in an extinction crisis. If the government is serious about revitalising the Gulf, they have simply got to remove this hugely damaging fishing method from the Marine Park. They must have the courage to stand up to the commercial fishing industry and do what’s right – protect Tīkapa Moana for future generations," says Hooper.